Wilson County TX Biographies
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James Wilson Henderson

James Wilson Henderson, governor, was born in Sumner County, Tennessee, on August 15, 1817. At the age of nineteen he left college near Georgetown, Kentucky, to travel to Texas, expecting to participate in the struggle for independence. He arrived in Texas shortly after the battle of San Jacinto and was sent back to the United States on recruiting service. When he returned to Texas, Sam Houston offered him a commission in the ranger service, but he declined, having decided to settle in Harris County and become a surveyor. While he was county surveyor of Harris County, Henderson began reading law in his spare time and was admitted to the bar. In 1842 he interrupted his practice to enlist as a private on the Somervell expedition. On September 4, 1843, he defeated Col. James Morgan for a seat in the House of Representatives, to which he was reelected in 1844. After annexation Henderson was elected to the House of the First Texas Legislature. In 1847 he was reelected and chosen speaker, defeating former president Mirabeau B. Lamar.

On June 6, 1848, Henderson was married to Laura A. Hooker. He was defeated for lieutenant governor in 1849 but elected to the position on August 4, 1851. Governor Peter H. Bell resigned his office, effective November 23, 1853, and on that day Henderson was inaugurated governor of Texas; he served until December 21. He was reelected to the legislature in 1857. His wife died on July 21, 1856, leaving him with two sons. Later he was married to Saphira Elizabeth Price; they had three children.

When the Civil War broke out Henderson joined the Confederate Army and was made a captain under Gen. John B. Magruder. He was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1866, a member of the executive committee at the Democratic state convention in 1868, and vice president of the state Democratic convention in 1871. He was afflicted with paralysis in 1877 and died at the home of his sister in Houston on August 30, 1880.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Presiding Officers of the Texas Legislature, 1846-1982 (Austin: Texas Legislative Council, 1982). Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.

Benito Andres Jimenez

Benito Andres Jimenez, teacher, politician, and business and community leader, was born in Floresville, Texas, on November 30, 1902, one of seven children born to Josefina (Lopez) and Manuel Jesus Ximenez. B. A. Jimenez was a life-long resident of Floresville and attended Lodi Elementary School, comprised predominantly of Mexican-American students. Before seeking political office, he began using "Jimenez" as a surname to avoid basing his political career upon his father's achievements. Jimenez graduated from Floresville High School in 1920 and attended St. Louis College (now St. Mary's University) and Alamo City Commercial College in San Antonio, where he studied business administration. During his college studies Jimenez taught school from 1921 to 1922 in Canada Verde, a small community near Floresville. Jimenez was a member of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church and was active in many civic affairs. El Salón de la Agrupación Nacional, initially known as Club Independiente when it was founded in 1901, was a Mexican-American club that coordinated fiestas patrias. Jimenez served as president of El Salón from 1923 to 1948. In 1940 Jimenez was appointed associate member of the Advisory Board for Registrants in Wilson County in connection with the Selective Service Act. Additionally, he was elected to the board of directors of the Wilson County Tuberculosis Association in 1947 and named committee chairman of the Red Cross Fund Campaign in 1947 and 1948. He was also appointed to the Wilson County Advisory Committee for the State Education Board in 1948. Aside from his many civic contributions, Jimenez also co-owned Jimenez and Zuniga grocery store from 1928 to 1943.

Jimenez's bilingual abilities enabled him to accept an appointment by Judge Sam B. Carr of the Eighty-first Judicial District as official court interpreter, a position he held from 1940 to 1967. In 1948 Special Federal Judge William R. Smith, Jr., named Jimenez state interpreter for the United States Representative's election, in which Lyndon B. Johnson narrowly defeated incumbent candidate Coke R. Stevenson. The election was hotly contested and included charges of voting fraud. Jimenez's duties involved translating court testimony given by Mexican Americans who answered questions regarding voting procedures during the election. In 1942 Jimenez was elected to his first public office as school board president of the Lodi Common School District. After six years he relinquished this position but continued serving as the board's advisor until 1955, when the school district was consolidated with the Floresville Independent School District. In 1947 Jimenez was elected justice of the peace of Precinct 1 and served in this capacity for four years. In 1950 Jimenez was elected to the Wilson County Commissioner's Court. He held the office of county commissioner of Precinct 1, the largest precinct in Wilson County, until his death in 1967. He was opposed for reelection only once, in 1952, during his seventeen-year tenure.

In 1965 the American G.I. Forum and the League of United Latin American Citizens Council 254 named Jimenez Man of the Year for his public service. In 1967 the Floresville Chamber of Commerce selected Jimenez Citizen of the Year in recognition of his civic contributions. Jimenez married Andrea Gonzalez of Poth, Texas, in 1928. They had four daughters, all of whom became school teachers. Jimenez suffered a stroke in 1965, but continued working as county commissioner from his bedside. He died of a heart attack on August 26, 1967. He is buried in the Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery in Floresville. Jimenez's legacy as a public servant continues as he was named in November 1993 to San Fernando Cathedral's Fifth Annual Roll Call of Honor, which recognizes individuals "who have earned distinction as pioneers, role models, advocates and inspirational leaders of the Hispanic community."

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Floresville Chronicle Journal, April 9, 1948. San Antonio Express-News, April 27, 1986. San Antonio News, December 28, 1965.

John Rhodes King

John Rhodes King, legislator, Texas Ranger, Confederate officer, and first mayor of Seguin, son of William and Rachel (Petty) King, was born in Stewart County, Tennessee, on March 24, 1816. He and his younger brother, Henry, joined a group of immigrants to Texas from Paris, Tennessee, in August 1837. The group crossed the Sabine River into Texas on September 13 and arrived in Gonzales on October 6. Finding prejudice in Gonzales against selling lots to new immigrants, King participated in forming a joint-stock company to purchase and survey land for a new town, named Seguin on February 25, 1839, in honor of Juan N. Seguín.

On March 16, 1839, King joined a newly raised ranger company as second sergeant to protect settlers from Indian raids. He served under the famed "Old Paint," Matthew Caldwell. After discharge six months later, he joined the Texas Auxiliary to help the Federalist forces in the Mexican civil war, who had promised the Texans recognition of their independence in exchange for furnishing 1,500 volunteers to the Federalist army. Upon returning to San Antonio on March 18, 1840, King joined a company of minute men to protect the area from the Indians. During the Mexican Invasions of 1842, he was named lieutenant under Capt. John Coffee (Jack) Hays for the Texas forces in San Antonio, which despite defense was captured by the Mexican army on September 11. Reinforcements arrived, and a number of battles ensued, with the Mexicans retreating to Mexico on October 1.

In June 1846, after the outbreak of the Mexican War, King joined a company of Col. John Hays's First Texas Regiment of Mounted Troops under Gen. Zachary Taylor. Back in Seguin in 1849, King served as deputy county clerk for Guadalupe County. On November 5, 1850, he was elected first lieutenant of a company of Texas Rangers formed to protect the state from Indian incursions. He returned to Seguin the following year, opened a grocery store, and married Ruth Eliza Wheeler.

An act incorporating Seguin was approved by the legislature on February 7, 1853, and in March, King was elected first mayor of the town. He organized several Masonic lodges dedicated to encouraging education and regulating the use of liquor. In June 1855, he was elected to the Sixth Legislature and appointed to the committees on Public Lands, Indian Affairs, Military Affairs, and Claims and Accounts. In the fall of 1859 he moved to Cibolo Creek in Eastern Bexar County. He was active in the movement to create Wilson County, and carried the petition to Austin.

Following the Secession Convention in Austin on January 28, 1861, Capt. John R. King joined the staff of Col. Henry McCullough, commander of the Texas Mounted Riflemen, C.S.A., and served in Texas and Arkansas. After resigning due to illness in December 1862, he moved first to Seguin and then to his ranch on Cibolo Creek in Wilson County, where he operated a steam sawmill, gristmill, and cotton gin. On February 15, 1876, King was elected a county commissioner, and in 1877 Stockdale was laid out as a townsite on land partially belonging to him. On November 7, 1882, he was elected to the Eighteenth Legislature, where he served on the committees on Stock and Stockraising, Military Affairs, and Indian Affairs, and as a member of a joint House-Senate committee to report on the condition of the Governor's Mansion. After being reelected in 1884, he served on the committees on State Affairs, Judicial Districts, Counties and County Boundaries, Private Land Claims and Public Roads, and Bridges and Ferries. After retiring from public life in 1886, he chaired the building committee for the construction of the Stockdale Methodist Church on land that he and his brother-in-law had donated. John R. King died on May 17, 1898, and is buried in Stockdale Cemetery.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Betty Sue Bird, The Life and Times of John Rhodes King (M.S. thesis, Texas A & I University, 1970). John Rhodes King Papers, Texas State Archives, Austin.

Leonidas Socrates Lawhon

Leonidas Socrates Lawhon, also referred to Leonardus and S. S. Lawhorn, attorney and state representative, was born in Georgia on July 16, 1835, the son of Luther Allen and Martha Ann (Hardman) Lawhon. Lawhon immigrated to Texas in the mid-1850s, settling in Helena, Karnes County, and practicing law. He later served as a judge in this county. On February 27, 1859, he married a woman listed as Adrianna E. This couple had three sons and one daughter. One of the sons, Luther, may have been the L. L. Lawhorn who was senator for District Twenty-two in the Twenty-third Texas Legislature. Lawhon himself was a leading member of the community and in 1873 won election as representative for District Twenty-four—comprised of Calhoun, Jackson, Victoria, Refugio, San Patricio, Bee, Goliad, DeWitt, Karnes, Live Oak, and Aransas counties—to the Fourteenth Texas Legislature. Following this turn at state office, Lawhon returned to Karnes County and remained here until about 1880 when he relocated to Floresville, Wilson County. He died in Gonzales County on August 10, 1902.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Hedwig K. Didear, A History of Karnes County and Old Helena (Austin: Jenkins, 1969). Members of the Legislature of the State of Texas from 1846 to 1939 (Austin: Texas Legislature, 1939).

Josefina Lopez de Ximenes

Josefina López de Ximenes, farmer and the first Mexican-American teacher in Wilson County, was born in Panna Maria, Texas, on April 25, 1865, to Benito and Caroline Opiela López. Her parents were immigrants from Mexico and Poland, respectively, and her father was a businessman in San Antonio and later in Panna Maria. Josefina attended area Catholic schools, where she was an excellent student. She graduated from the Floresville Academy and then taught there until her marriage in November 1893 to Manuel J. Ximenez, a deputy sheriff and United States deputy marshal in Wilson County. The couple had seven children. Josefina López de Ximenes became a teacher in Wilson County.

She was widowed in 1911 but was apparently able to provide for her family, probably as a farmer. She also ensured that they attend school, a difficult challenge for Texas Mexicans at that time. She successfully influenced them with her love of learning, for five of her children pursued teaching careers. She also encouraged the educational goals of her granddaughters, some of whom she raised. Evangelina Bazan, one of these, has recalled that López de Ximenes taught her to read in English and Spanish and urged her to attend college when she was still a child. Twenty-six descendants became teachers. Josefina López de Ximenes died on March 1, 1961, and was buried at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Floresville. In 1986 her story became part of an exhibit called "Tejana Heroines: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow," sponsored by Hispanas Unidas in San Antonio.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: San Antonio Express News, April 27, 1986. Louise Stadler, ed., Wilson County History (Dallas: Taylor, 1990).

William Owen Murray

Hon. William Owen Murray. Many years of conscientious public service have made the name of Senator William Owen Murray one of the most familiar in public life of Texas.' Mr. Murray is now chairman of the state prison commission, having been appointed and taking office in September, 1913. This is an office involving the most taxing and onerous duties, and their performance in an intelligence and disinterested manner is one of the highest contributions which any citizen can render to his home state. Senator Murray succeeded Chairman Cabbell. Mr. Murray has been identified with public affairs in Texas for many years, and came to Huntsville from Floresville, Wilson county, where his home has been since October 20, 1880.

William Owen Murray was born in Morgan county, Missouri, October 22, 1857, and was two years of age when the family moved to Texas in 1859. He grew up in Wilson county, received a common school education and continued the traditions of the family as a farming class. He began his business career as a clerk in LaVernia in Wilson county, then entered the county clerk 's office in Floresville, and after three years went into business as a merchant there and continued therein until 1907. In the meantime he had branched out and established a general mercantile house in Fairview, and another business in Runge, Carnes County, Texas. As his interests expanded he invested in farms, ranches and banks, and among other affairs is a stockholder and director in the First National Bank of Floresville, and president of the Floresville Oil and Manufacturing Company.

However, it is with his political career that this sketch is most concerned, and his public service has been one of much eventfulness and prominence. Soon after acquiring the franchise, he became interested in practical politics, and the first state convention he attended enrolled him as one of its youngest delegates. He helped to nominate Governors Sayres, Lanham, and Colquitt. His first official place was as alderman at Floresville, and in 1898 he represented his district in the Twenty-Sixth Legislature, and was vice chairman and then chairman of the appropriation committee of the house. He continued to sit in the lower house of the legislature during the twenty-sixth, twenty-seventh, twenty-eight, twenty-ninth, and he was then elected to the senate and served in the thirtieth, thirty-first, thirty-second, and thirty-third senates, until he resigned in August, 1913. His purpose in going to the legislature was to see that the school land legislation was properly enacted. He secured the passage of the Murray bill through the house in the twenty-eighth session, but the bill did not become a law until the twenty-ninth legislature. In the senate he represented the twenty-second district, embracing thirteen counties. His special work in the senate was to defeat iniquituous and trivial legislation, and he made a record in that capacity. He served as chairman of the committee on land and land office and in many ways made himself a leader of Austin and as one of the ablest of the states ' legislators. Senator Murray left the senate with the expectation of being entirely rid of politics, but consented to serve on the state prison commission solely from a conscientious sense of public duty and as a compliment to his friend Governor Colquitt.

Senator Murray is a son of Asa W. Murray. The father, who was born in 1832 in Wilmington, North Carolina, was the son of Owen Murray, a planter. The Murrays in South Carolina were of the slave-holding class, were of Scotch stock, and some of the colonial ancestors were identified with the famous Mecklenburg declaration of independence. Asa W. Murray began his career as a merchant in Morgan county. Missouri, and on moving to Texas engaged in farming in Wilson county. Later he went into the Confederate army as a private, and was in the Trans-Mississippi Department throughout the war, and escaped without wounds or capture. Following his return from the army he took up farming, and was elected and served as sheriff and collector of his county, and on leaving office established a furniture store at Floresville, where he spent the remaining years of his active life. Mr. Asa W. Murray married Miss Annie Mobley, a daughter of William Mobley, who was an early settler in Morgan county, and a Baptist minister. Mrs. Murray, who died in Floresville in 1890, had children as follows: Senator W. O. ; James S.. of Wilson county; Mrs. Annie Boehmer of Eagle Pass; Mrs. Sue Ezell of Floresville ; Albert C. of Lordburg, New Mexico ; Nettie, wife of O. A. McCracken of Floresville ; Asa B., of Floresville.

The Murray family have always been identified with the Presbyterian church. Senator Murray is affiliated with the Lodge and Chapter of the Masonic Order and with the Knights of Pythias. He was married in Floresville, October 10, 1883, to Miss Ella Peacock, one of four daughters of Thomas and Salima (Steele) Peacock, who came from Shelby county, Tennessee. The children of Senator Murray are: Mattie S., Ida May, William O., Jr., and DeWitt. Mattie and Ida May graduating from the University two and three years ago, Wm. O., Jr., graduates in June of this year and DeWitt will graduate June, 1915.

Source: A history of Texas and Texans, Vol. IV by Francis W. Johnson. Chicago: The American Historical Society, 1914.

William Owen Murray

William Owen Murray, lawyer and judge, son of William O. and Ella (Peacock) Murray, was born on April 11, 1890, in Floresville, Texas. He began his legal and political career in Wilson County, where he was elected county judge in 1914, just before graduating from the University of Texas law school. He had previously attended West Texas Military Academy in San Antonio.

Murray was in public office for more than fifty years, with only a two-year (1917-19) interruption for World War Iqv service as a field artillery captain in the Thirty-sixth Division.qv He was elected district attorney of the Eighty-first Judicial District in 1920 and district judge in 1926. In 1932 he was elected to the Fourth Court of Civil Appeals at San Antonio, where he served continuously for thirty-three years, part of the time as chief justice. During his long career as an appellate judge, he wrote 1,564 opinions, plus fifty-six dissenting and concurring opinions. One of his best-known decisions (1959) favored the right of cities in dry counties to decide by election whether to remain dry-the right of "local option" (see PROHIBITION MOVEMENT).

Murray was married to Louise Green; they had five children. He was a Mason and a Presbyterian. He died on February 18, 1974, in San Antonio and was buried in Sunset Memorial Park in that city.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: San Antonio Express, February 19, 1974. Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.

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